In the 1950’s something called ‘Planned Obolescence’ was built into the American economy. It’s no coincidence that this happened at the same time as the advertising boom we’ve all come to love via Mad Men. Planned Obolescence “is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.” And if you still don’t understand what I’m talking about, take a look at your Apple iPhone. Just what model do you have?
Planned Obolescence also applies to fashion, automobiles, appliances, technology obviously and just about everything you can think of. It’s a trap that leave us wanting more-more newer-newer as old products give way to something “better.” But is it better? Is that new $2000 coat really any warmer than the one you already have? Does the new dishwasher really make your dishes any cleaner?
I know so many people in debt because of this consumer trap.
So watch out for those feelings of needing to keep up with everybody around you. Maybe it’s cooler to just say no.
Years ago my husband gave me a hard time about not being more intellectual, (please read with a sneer) which I have never let him forget. The other night we were out and about partying old people style. On the way home, my darling husband told me I was funny, sexy and smart.
“Smart?” I asked. “I want to be mysterious and intellectual.”
“Then you’re going to have to start talking about Mark Twain and Descartes instead of Grinder, Chris Rock and Beyoncé when we go to a party.”
My husband had a point. If I’m going to be intellectual, I need to change-up my talking points. And if I’m going to change-up my talking points, I’m going to have to reboot my interests.
This means spending less time watching X-Men and more time reading The New York Times, United Nations press releases (is there such as thing?), and dead German poets. I’m going to have to dedicate myself to the art of learning esoteric information that makes me <yawn> think. I’m going to need to figure out once and for where the hell Mabibia is. Mabibia? Nabibia? Namibia? Something like that. I’ll Google it.
I’m going to read the Brothers Karamazov. Yes, the whole thing!
I’m going to listen when Sam starts going on and on about that Middle East stuff.
I’m going to vote in local elections instead of recycling my ballot.
And most importantly, I’m going to quote Shakespeare. That quoting stuff sounds super fancy. From now on I’m going to be the intellectual girl at the party. Mark Twain and Descartes. I’m all over this.
Addendum – $20 says I never get invited back to a single party.
5:59am, 5:58am – these are the numbers I see every morning when the little Prince (aka Napoleon Bonaparte) wakes me up. What is up with that short dude? I put him to bed at 6pm – 5:59am wake time. I put him to bed at 9pm – 5:58 wake time. I put him to bed shackled in the closet hanging upside down – 5:59am wake time. (get it? ’cause he’s like the opposite of a vampire – whatever, i’m tired)
And these are the good days. There’s always at least one morning a week where numbers like 4:32am and 4:28am greet my swollen, sleep-crusted eyes. Strangely, the loudness of my voice seems to directly coincide with the order of these numbers.
The point is, just once I’d like to see some different numbers in the morning. A 7? A 8?
Really, my little autocrat, let mama get some sleep. I’m aging so fast from this hard living I look about 49 going on 57.
Sam and I hauled the kids up to Big Bear on Sunday for a little spring sledding. My poor children have never seen snow (ah, life of a child from Southern California). Ridden with guilt over their deprived upbringings, we packed up the snow clothes and set on our way. For $100, Snow Valley resort will put you on a chairlift, carry you to the top of a bunny run, lend you a sled, and….weeeeee! It was awesome. The kids were shell-shocked. That is what sledding is?! Who knew?
But then after the third time down, my daughter wanted to know when we could stop sledding and get on to the skiing part. Talk about transient pleasure. We explained that skiing involved rentals and a different lift ticket. She explaining that sledding was fun and all, but next time, she wanted to ski.
After an arduous (and I mean arduous) drive home, we had Sunday Night Movie Night and went to bed. This morning I asked my daughter if she was excited to tell her friends at school about her adventure. She looked at me and cocked her head, “What adventure, Mama?” The sledding adventure, I told her, surprised that she had forgotten. “Oh yeah, sure.” she agreed in a tone that sounded like, whatever. I couldn’t believe it. After all that work to get them to see some snow. To be in the outdoors. To wear snow clothes and whiz down a mountain. My city kids were showing their true colors.
Spring Sledding – a lasting impression.for all.
Rain. Rain! It’s raining in Los Angeles.
All winter we’ve worn our summer dresses, our sunblock, and our shades. All winter we’ve quietly wondered to ourselves if this is the beginning of the end. If global climate change had decided to make her fist move. If summertime in the winter is what all those scientists were talking about. Los Angeles winters of 85 degrees. If perhaps we should’ve gotten a new Prius after all. If our kids were going to think California and the equator were pretty much the same. If the constant sunshine was making us all batty.
But now. Now!
It started to rain in the wee hours of the night and to my great pleasure, I can still hear it coming down. A hard dripping sound on the plastic of the air conditioner outside the window. A soft, wet, swishy drip onto the leaves of the plants that are abundantly growing thanks to the never-ending sunshine. A splatter drip washing the terracotta tiles of our front porch. And then the warm, cozy drip on the roof that feels like cotton balls in my ears. I am enveloped in the womb of rain.
Thank you. Whoever you are. Thank you.
In my living room we have a small oriental rug. Sam and I purchased it at a bazaar years ago. It was one of our first big buys and it was exciting. The rug is from Afghanistan and we are definitely not the first owners. The color scheme is red and creme and two shades of blue and because the rug is positively ancient, the whole thing is faded six-ways to Sunday. Plus, I have small children and a dog so the poor rug has been put to the test. All of which of course, just makes it more beautiful.
Anyway, around the edges of the rug lies a complicated border. The border, I have been told, is lava. I first found out this startling news when I stepped on it and was told, “Mommy! You’re burning in lava!” Naturally, I jumped out of the border as fast as I could. Soon, talk of the lava had reached far and wide and everyone began carefully stepping over the dangerous terrain. What’s most alarming is that the lava flows around and around the border with no way to curtail its deadly path. The poor dog is forever getting burnt to a crisp and even I have been known to walk right through it unawares. How could I be so careless?
Little did Sam and I know when bought this rug that it would be such an important part of our family. We knew we’d probably have it forever. We didn’t know it would sprout its own lava train.
So be careful if you stop by, because the lava will burn you.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Grumpy and exasperated. Short-tempered and growly. I think my family would best describe me as not fun to be around in any way, sense or form.
And then dear Pharrell Williams made an appearance at the dining room table. The kids and I watched, danced, and sung along twice.
In case you’re in a bad mood too today and need to remember how to smile…